View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Getting Things Done

Apparently, the siezed assets from the old regime in Baghdad don't have to get shrunk going through the normal contracting channels; the military has a program where the troops on the spot can disburse funds for public works projects. The number of bids required for a contract under $10,000: one. And the guys prefer to hire locals, partially because they know them, and partially because it gives the individuals working a stake in the community. Also, since the work is being done with money stolen from these people in the first place, it can only add to their satisfaction. Naturally, the aid groups are claiming that this sort of thing distorts the whole process, but one senses that they just don't like being bypassed, and it points out how much of an independent interest the NGOs have themselves become.

While the author clearly didn't get the memo that said everything on the ground was going to hell, she did include one curious comment:

In general, Arnold said, contractors have been "brutally honest" about cost and time and have lived up to their promises. "Maybe," he mused, "because they are terrified." That could be because their bosses are wearing bulletproof vests and packing semiautomatics.

Or maybe, they know how much is riding on the success of this program. If Iraqis really are resentful that we had to effect their freedom for them, maybe they're also eager to show they can do things for themselves.

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